The Goldilocks Problem: choosing between the new iPhones

iPhone X

Yesterday, Apple introduced three new phones. As I’ve written, I’ve been planning to upgrade ever since I bought my iPhone 7.

But this new iPhone lineup makes the buying decision difficult. It’s a “Goldilocks Problem,” in that none of the three models feels “just right:”

  1. iPhone X. The flagship model has an edge-to-edge, higher-res, higher-contrast screen. It also boasts a dual camera (with its optical zoom and portrait photography feature) in a pocketable form factor. But it’s prohibitively expensive: 64GB at $999 is a tough pill to swallow.
  2. iPhone 8 Plus. The new plus-sized model boasts the dual camera, but it’s packed into a case that I’ve always found too large for practical use.
  3. iPhone 8. If the 8 included the dual camera, it would have been a tempting upgrade over the 7. It didn’t, so it’s not. As packaged, the iPhone 8 feels like a fairly minor upgrade over its predecessor.

So I’m caught between models. I want the dual camera—that rules out the 8. But I’m not sure I can justify the X’s exorbitant price, and the Plus is just too big.

Maybe this is my own weird hang-up. Or maybe other prospective Apple customers also feel like Goldilocks, unsatisfied with their options. Could that ambivalence freeze the upgrade cycle? Will buyers waffling between models decide to wait another year—or buy an Android device instead?

It will be interesting to watch Apple’s next few quarterly results; we should get a sense of whether customers are upgrading to the 8/X en masse. ■